Sep 28, 2000
The eyes of the hockey community and the entire sporting world are focused on the proceedings that are unfolding in a provincial courtroom located in Vancouver, British Columbia. This is the venue where the precedent setting assault trial for former Boston Bruins defenseman Marty McSorley is being held. McSorley is standing trial and has pleaded not guilty to assaulting Vancouver Canucks forward Donald Brashear. The charges were brought stemming from an incident that took place in a game last February where McSorley struck Brashear across the head with his stick. The blow rendered the Canucks enforcer unconscious, causing him to drop prone to the ice where he struck his head a second time. This act of viciousness sickened hockey fans from coast to coast, and sparked lively debate across the country as to the role if any the court system should play in adjudicating such matters.
It may prove a surprise to some, but this is not the first time that a member of the Boston Bruins has been involved in an act of this ferocity. Its not even the first time that a Bruins defenseman has had charges laid against him for a violent stick swinging altercation.
The Boston Bruins through the decades of their existence have taken pride in the notoriety they have received for being hockey's most intimidating franchise. The Big Bad Bruins of the late 60s and early 70s brought rough and tumble play into vogue while Don Cherry's "Lunch Pail Gang" iced a line-up that boasted such pugilists as Wayne Cashman, Bobby Schmautz, Terry O'Reilly, John Wensink, Stan Jonathan and Al Secord. The Killer Bs reign of terror can be traced back some 70 years to the days when the legendary Eddie Shore patrolled Boston's blueline.
It can be argued that the top three most heinous acts seen by the NHL over the last 80 years can be attributed in whole or in part to a member of the Boston Bruins. In the wake of the McSorley trial, it seems appropriate to revisit three such incidents concerning the Boston Bruins, which are enshrined in hockey lore.
Eddie Shore was a fierce competitor who adopted a "take no prisoners" approach to his style of game. This Hall of Fame defenseman was once called the "Darth Vader" of hockey by Don Cherry. Shore assured himself a spot in hockey infamy on December 12 1933.
It was in a game between the Boston Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs that Shore was at his ornery best/worst. Ace Bailey who was a standout and future Hall of Fame inductee for the Leafs was to have his career and almost his life ended by Shore on this night. During the course of the game Shore was knocked to the ice. Enraged he got back to his feet and charged at the first Leaf who came into his field of vision. Unfortunately for Ace, this player was him. More unfortunate was the fact that Bailey had his back turned and didn't know what hit him. Shore jarred Bailey from behind causing the Leaf to hit his head violently off the Gardens ice. Bailey was immediately rushed to hospital where he underwent emergency and life saving surgery. For several days after Bailey straddled the thin line between life and death before finally pulling through. However his life as a hockey player was over.
On a lighter note later that season a benefit game was held for Ace Bailey between the Maple Leafs and a collection of NHL all stars. Before the game got underway, Bailey and Shore shook hands at centre ice to a huge ovation. The moment was captured in a famous photograph that still adorns the walls of Maple Leafs Gardens to this day.
A second atrocious occurrence took place in the 1967-68 season between the Philadelphia Flyers' Larry Zeidal and the Bruins' Eddie Shack. Zeidal was an enforcer who previous to his call up to Philadelphia had spent much of his playing days accumulating over 2500 penalty minutes in the minors. At the time of the incident, Zeidal was the career leader in PIMs for three different minor leagues. He engaged in a bloody stick swinging incident with the colourful Shack that shocked many observers. Both players were "carved up" after the confrontation and needed medical attention. Both combatants were fined $300 and suspended for 4 and 3 games respectively. Many onlookers who saw this carnage still speak of it to this day.
The third act of brutality concerning a member of the Boston Bruins went down in the pre season of 1969-70. It happened in Ottawa and concerned a St. Louis Blue named Wayne Maki and a tough veteran rear guard for the Bruins nicknamed "Terrible" Ted Green. The situation began behind the Bruins net when Maki knocked Green down from behind. Green retaliated by slashing Maki who was sent tumbling to the ice. Maki speared Green who in return thundered him to the ice yet again. The two exchanged vicious slashes until Maki clubbed Green over the head so violently that his skull was fractured. Green had to undergo 5 hours of brain surgery in order to have skull fragments removed from his brain. Subsequent operations were performed afterward to place a steel plate in Green's head.
Maki was suspended for 30 days, and Green for 12 games when he returned to playing a year later. Both suspensions were the highest in NHL history at the time. Assault charges were filed against both players by Ottawa courts - the first time in NHL history that this had occurred although neither player was convicted. Green went on to coach the Edmonton Oilers and serves as an assistant coach today with the Rangers.
Marty McSorley isn't the only Bruin to land in hot water in the annals of NHL history. The Bruins have a long and sordid history of violence and brutality which should not be forgotten in the aftermath of this most recent event.
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